Find Your Perfect Cruise – Pick the Right Cruise for you
Choosing the right cruise for you is often the most difficult process, simply because of the amount of choice. Every continent is accessible, even inland locations such as Central Europe or Africa has river cruises.
Considering these few simple rules to find your perfect cruise to make booking a lot easier:
Who is going on the Cruise?
All age groups are welcome and planned for on a cruise ship. You will be able to find a cruise that will give any age group from toddler to great grandmother a memorable vacation. Friends of mine with teenagers often say they have found it to be the best family vacation yet. If you don’t have kids or don’t want to be around them while on vacation, there are some cruise ships that are almost adult only or won’t have many children.
How much are you prepared to spend?
There are NO maximums. There used to be a “rule of thumb” that you needed to budget about $100/day/person (exclusive of airfare). That rule still seems fairly reasonable, although many cruise ships now charge extra for items that used to be included in the fare.
How long do you want to travel for?
If you have less than a week, you are probably restricted to the Bahamas, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, or a “cruise to nowhere”. A “cruise to nowhere” allows passengers to cruise for a long weekend out of port into the ocean and then return. No ports of call are made by the ship, but you can get a feel for what a cruise is like. A week’s vacation will open up the Caribbean to you, and depending on where you live you can even get to Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, or the South Pacific. If you can squeeze out ten days to two weeks, you will have many more options-including all seven of the continents.
When do you want to travel?
Cruises are usually a little cheaper in the spring or fall. Students of economics will know that this is entirely due to supply and demand. Kids are in school, and weather can sometimes be uncertain. Some people are fearful of fall hurricanes, but cruise ships can deal with those by altering their itinerary, although you may see different destinations than what you planned. Some locations have short cruising seasons. For example, if you are going to Alaska or northern Europe, you will have to cruise between May and September. If you are going to Antarctica, November through February is the season. Going to the tropics is a little easier. The temperature will not vary much with the seasons. What does vary is the rainfall. The dry season for most tropical locations like the Caribbean and Hawaii is in the summer, and the rainy season is in the winter.
Where do you want to cruise?
Remember that the earth is over 3/4 covered with water. This means that you can reach every continent and many countries via cruise ship. Even land locked locations such as central Europe, Russia, or the Yangtze River in China can often be reached on a river cruise. Every cruise destination has its own special atmosphere and diverse nature.
What type of activities do you like to do?
One of the best things about a cruise is the wide variety of activities available. You can do everything from sit on the deck and enjoy the view to more strenuous activities like hiking, scuba diving, or other water sports. Many cruise lines’ will provide you a list of shore activities offered before you book, either via the Internet or from your travel agent. You normally do not have to decide on the shore activities before you sail, but you may be asked to book the shore excursions not long after embarkation.
What type of cabin do you require?
Cabin selection is normally a function of how much you want to spend. Deck plans for most ships are available in hard copy from the cruise line, travel agent, or you can view them online. If you book early enough, you will sometimes get an upgrade to a better cabin. You might also note that on most ships a cabin mid-ship and on a lower deck will “ride better” in rough seas than one near the bow or on a higher deck.
When do you like to eat?
Dinner time varies with the cruise line or ship. There are three possibilities–early seating (about 6:00 pm), late seating (about 8:00-8:30 pm) or open seating (anytime within a given time frame like 6:30-9:30).
Do you like to dress up?
Along with the general trend towards more relaxed dress, some cruise lines have started to feature “resort casual” or “country club casual” dress every night. On these ships, they probably won’t care if you want to be more formal, but you might feel awkward if you showed up without a tie for a semi-formal dinner on a more traditional ship. If you want to eat dinner in jeans, shorts, or very casual attire, you need to look towards small sailing ships like Windjammer of have dinner in your cabin or in one of the casual buffets most mainstream ships have.
How will you get to your cruise ship?
Flying or driving are the two most popular modes of transportation to the ship’s embarkation point. Driving is under your control, but might not be reasonable unless you live within a day’s drive of an embarkation point. Most cruise lines will sell you a combination “fly-cruise” package. This often is much easier, but you will need to compare the cruise line airfare price to booking your flight independently.
If you carefully consider the above, you will have an enjoyable experience onboard. That much is sure. However, there are other precautions that you need to take. Booking is just the start, as there is much more that you need to think about both prior to your journey and whilst onboard.
Learn About Your Ship’s Sanitation Record
Check your cruise line’s scores on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program Inspection Scores list. Under its Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspect ships that have foreign itineraries, stop at U.S. ports and carry more than 12 passengers. Inspectors check each ship in the program twice per year. They look at the ship’s systems, medical facilities, swimming pools and common areas for pests, disinfection problems, safety issues, and problems with documentation and crew training. A score of 85 or lower on a scale of 100 possible points is considered unsatisfactory. You can search for a particular ship’s score or check results for an entire cruise line at the VSP website. You can also see a list of cruise ships that received a perfect score.
Visit Your Doctor Before You Travel
Make a doctor’s appointment several weeks before your departure date. Be sure to ask your physician about necessary immunizations, particularly if you’re traveling overseas. Review your prescriptions with your doctor and make sure you have enough medication on hand for your entire trip. If you have chronic health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, discuss your trip in detail with your doctor.
If you become ill before your cruise, check with your doctor and your cruise line before embarking. While cruise ships do have doctors and nurses on staff, you may not be able to get the medications you need, and it could be difficult to communicate effectively with your own doctor once the ship sails. It’s better to reschedule, if at all possible, than to risk serious illness or infect other passengers.
Assemble over-the-counter travel necessities, such as insect spray, sunscreen, pain reliever, motion sickness medication, hand sanitizer gel or wipes and anti-diarrhoea products, particularly if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. If you are traveling by air to your departure port, remember that all liquids must be carried in containers holding three ounces or less. You’ll need to put all of these liquid items into a resealable quart-sized plastic bag to comply with TSA inspection requirements.
Preparing and Packing
Have proper identification. If you are sailing from and returning to a U.S. port, in most cases you will need a passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate. If you are sailing within a foreign country, you may need a visa in addition to a passport. A travel agent can advise you about the required documents.
Pack wisely. Bring an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and/or contact lenses, all prescription medications, the instructions and dosage amounts. Bring copies of all your prescriptions in case you need to replace any of them. Bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
A Cabin with a View?
Choose a cabin best suited to your needs. An inside cabin on the lowest deck is the least expensive and in some cases, the most stable, particularly if it’s in the center of the ship. However, some people feel claustrophobic if they don’t have windows or portholes. Never leave your cabin door propped open or unlocked, even for a short time. Always lock the door and never leave the cabin keys unattended. Don’t let your guard down. Keep an eye on valuables or put them in the ship’s or room’s safe. Always determine a person’s identity before you open your cabin door. If you didn’t order room service or don’t know the person, don’t open the door. If you feel someone is following you, don’t go back to your cabin. Go to a public place and ask someone to escort you to your room.
Know Your Surroundings
Familiarize yourself with the ship’s safety features like personal flotation devices, lifeboats, sprinkler system and emergency exit plans.
Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands
We all hear this advice frequently, but it bears repeating. Washing your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds (singing the “Happy Birthday” song is a good way to time yourself) is the best way to prevent transmission of diseases that could ruin your trip. You should wash your hands before and after eating, after touching your face for any reason, after using the bathroom and after visiting the ship’s common areas or touching doorknobs or guard rails. Of course, you should also wash after coming in contact with an ill person.
Avoid Sick Passengers
If illness breaks out on your ship, do your best to stay away from passengers who are sick. This might be a good time to enjoy breakfast in your stateroom or to eat a meal or two ashore. Follow ship’s crew instructions if an outbreak spreads; crewmembers must implement extra cleaning and sanitation procedures if many passengers become ill.
Skip Undercooked or Unwashed Food
Eating undercooked food (particularly shellfish) or unwashed vegetables and fruits could put you at risk for gastroenteritis. Be sure hot food is served hot and cold food is served cold. Don’t drink tap water ashore unless you are sure it is uncontaminated.
Take Care of Yourself
Be sure to get plenty of rest during your cruise. If you should become ill during your vacation, consult with the ship’s doctor and follow your treatment plan.
All being well you should have a great time. You can always brag to your friends and family members by using a Mobal World Phone. The phone works in over 190 countries, so it doesn’t matter what port you call in, you’re only a phone call away from gloating about your incredible cruise experience.